Attack on Titan – Series Review

You have no idea what anime is? Neither did I, really. (It’s a cartoon, basically.) But Little EM nagged me for a whole year—well, if you can call open and shameless blackmail nagging—until I had to give in. “Attack on Titan is the best anime! Everyone’s watching Attack on Titan!” claimed Little EM. Maybe so, although the real question is how long they’re watching. If you want what’s best for yourself…

How does the series start anyway? It starts off damn well. Humanity has been living behind enormous walls for a hundred years. Outside the walls, there are naked, androgynous, and horribly stupid giants who hunger for human flesh. It’s like zombies, only bigger than apartment buildings. In the first episode, the giants break through the wall. After watching it, you’ll probably just gawk and say, “I’ve never seen a stronger series opener, not even Lost or The Shield, compare to this.”

Attack on Titan - TV Series - Season 1

Unfortunately, it’s all downhill from there. It feels like the creators locked a bunch of twelve-year-olds in a room, had them compete to come up with the dumbest idea, and the winner’s idea got passed along. There’s no sense to the story; it’s like they’re always trying to make something big happen, and as quickly as possible. The first two seasons could have easily explored how humanity recovers from the initial shock, how they slowly gear up for an unequal fight against the almost unbeatable enemy. Instead, they throw in two twists, right at the beginning (the first being the protagonist’s, uh, transformation, and the other involving the giant girl), which completely undermine the otherwise strong premise. And don’t even get me started on the Abnormals, special giants with unique abilities. Armor, teleportation, who knows what else. All these elements successfully reduce the series to a stupid fairy tale.

And believe it or not, that’s the lesser issue. The bigger problem is that the creators of Attack on Titan are incapable of writing sensible dialogue. All the conversations are garbled, pompous repetitions. Plus, most of the characters, whether necessary or not, SCREAM AT THE TOP OF THEIR LUNGS. Especially Eren, the protagonist, who can ONLY COMMUNICATE BY SCREAMING. So, if his little buddies in the Scout Regiment disagree with him, they don’t politely ask,

“Hey, what the frakkin’ hell are you doin’, chimmy-chummy?”

Instead, they SHOUT in his face, “You’re preparing for the downfall of humanity with your actions. Admit that you’re an enemy of humanity!” And so on. This compulsive grandiloquence renders every conversation completely unbelievable and ridiculous.

But the childishness and thoughtlessness extend to every other aspect of the series as well. Whenever the characters find themselves in a crisis (which happens quite a few times), with about 10 seconds to avert the crisis, you can bet 500 yen against the armored giant’s left testicle that they’ll spend AT LEAST 10 minutes lamenting, philosophizing, or struggling with themselves over what to do—while you angrily pound the armrest of your chair in front of the TV and start SHOUTING yourself: “Your time’s up, you miserable idiots!”

At least one recruit participating in military training has a HYSTERICAL BREAKDOWN due to the bleak future ahead, and a third of the episode is spent with the others comforting them. Meanwhile, in sharp contrast, and only incidentally, it turns out that due to overcrowding behind the walls, 250,000(!) civilians were driven out to fight against the giants—to reduce the population inside. The brilliant plan was a success. The giants ate them all. Problem solved. It couldn’t have been easy to convince these 250,000 civilians to join the action; they were probably all forcibly pushed out the gate and weapons were thrown after them at the end, to prevent any recklessness inside. Or if not, they all were probably EASILY INFLUENCED retirees.

The protagonists of Attack on Titan go into battle after a short military training, and the plot essentially revolves around successive military actions. But these go beyond the bounds of common sense; the main goal is to be as shocking as possible. First, the brilliant strategist, Commander Pixishshshshshshshu, and then the no less brilliant Commander Erwin Smith’s subordinates fall like flies. Both geniuses adhere to the principle that no matter the losses, if HUMANITY’S ULTIMATE VICTORY is at stake. And it’s always at stake; after all, the characters keep shouting it in your ear incessantly. While you tug at your mustache over the two officers’ hair-raising, unorthodox moves, and the pointless waste of scarce human resources. How could you expect a sensible plan from someone who wants to sneak into the giants’ territory unnoticed, but at the same time extends the front line of his cavalry unit as wide as possible, constantly firing rockets into the air, and orders full speed from the start to make sure all the horses tire out as quickly as possible???

To be fair, amidst all this stupidity, the series manages in a few key moments to shock or even downright sadden. There’s plenty of death, yet the series manages to give weight to these moments. (And this is obviously the main reason for its success.) This emotional charge compels you to keep watching Attack on Titan episodes, even when you should have stopped the whole series ages ago…

6/10 (60%)

Attack on Titan. Season 1. (2013) TV series (IMDb)

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